June 24th, 2011
Dear Speaker Quinn –
The more than 360 + signatures which accompany this letter represent residents from every walk of life: low, middle and upper income, children, adults and senior citizens. We are a multi-cultural and racially diverse neighborhood. As upper east siders we do not consider ourselves “elitist” but rather we are proud of our diversity. We are equally proud of the renaissance that we are witnessing in our neighborhood. In the past few years we have added public schools, as well as a school for the handicapped, senior citizens homes and many new apartment buildings. We have two hotels which cater to international and domestic visitors, a diversity of food shops as well gourmet stores, restaurants and even a local green market on Sundays between 92nd and 93rd Street offering the neighborhood organic vegetables and other farm fresh produce, locally caught fish, freshly baked breads and fruit directly from orchards in upstate New York. This is a densely populated residential neighborhood which surrounds Asphalt Green which is the proposed site for the Marine Transfer Station at East 91st Street. The aqua center, play ground and playing fields of Asphalt Green serve more than 100,000 people a year with many free programs for low income children. Asphalt Green is our “backyard”, this is a place where both children and adults can participate in a variety of programs as well as excel athletically. This is what you would see if you WOULD VISIT OUR COMMUNITY! As an elected official don’t you have a responsibility to visit your constituents who elected you – how can you mandate and judge what is right for a community if you do not want to come and see with your own eyes and understand who we are.
When we hear the words “environmental justice” we literally cringe. Is this not environmental injustice to mandate the construction of a garbage dump in the middle of a children’s playing field, athletic complex and in the heart of a residential neighborhood less than 300 feet from low and middle income public housing? Do we not continually question why third world countries force their people to live next to toxic waste dumps or a nuclear reactor – is this not the same thing. We do not live in a dictatorship but a democracy which entitles us to have a voice. You as well as the Mayor refuse to understand that we are a densely populated neighborhood with a high incidence of asthma and very poor air quality. Why do you wish to site a garbage facility next to a children’s playing field which serves low income families. Running garbage trucks through our neighborhood 24/6 will create an environmental catastrophe – toxic fumes, vermin, rats and scavenging birds (the bird excrement covering our local parks and playing fields). This will destroy a tranquil residential environment. You are acting as though we were living in a third world country by telling us that we are mandated to accept a toxic garbage dump. To make it even worse you state that you will make it “environmentally safe”. Does that mean that you will take care of us when our children, seniors and other at risk adults become seriously ill. You tell us that there are ways to make a garbage dump more “environmentally” safe in a flood zone and in the middle of a children’s playing field. Not having ever set foot in this district I am surprised that you would want to give these assurances. When our neighborhood has been destroyed by the ineptitude of a few politicians who are no longer in office – who will rebuild our neighborhood? Many of us who have signed the petition have lived in this neighborhood when the transfer station was active. We know what it is like to have garbage trucks lined up and idling in front of our buildings and the continuous foul odor which emanated from the site. We are told in the first page of the proposal that the East River will need to be dredged to accept the garbage barges and that the eco system will be damaged. These are not our words but a statement of fact in the official proposal for the construction of the MTS. We are told that the Esplanade along the East River is not a Park and that Asphalt Green is not Park. Even though Asphalt Green appears on the Parks & Recreation website.
Speaker Quinn how do you define a residential neighborhood, an athletic complex, a playing field or even a park? Why are you arguing semantics – please come and look at our neighborhood and listen to the voices of the young and the elderly and all the people that live here – please take a hard look at the alternatives and find a solution that is truly environmentally safe before you vote 125, 000 million dollars to fund this seriously misguided and politically motivated project.
Tara K. Reddi
East 93rd Street Block & Neighborhood Association